This pasta puttanesca is spaghetti tossed in a homemade tomato sauce that is flavored with olives, capers and herbs. A quick and easy dinner option that tastes like it came straight from your local Italian restaurant!
When I’m looking for a quick and easy dinner, I often turn to pasta puttanesca. It uses ingredients that I typically already have on hand, and can be on the table in 30 minutes. How can you go wrong with that?
How do you make pasta puttanesca?
This recipe starts with garlic, anchovy paste and red chili flakes, which get sauteed in olive oil until fragrant. Canned tomatoes go into the pan, and the sauce is simmered until thickened. While the sauce is cooking, boil your pasta. The final step is to stir some olives and capers into the sauce, toss with the pasta, and enjoy!
What is in puttanesca sauce?
Puttanesca sauce is made with tomatoes, garlic, chili flakes, olive oil, anchovies, olives and capers. While you may think that anchovies are an odd choice for pasta sauce, do not omit them from the recipe! The anchovies make the sauce more complex in flavor, but the sauce does not taste fishy. In fact, you probably won’t even notice that the anchovy paste is there.
Tips for the perfect pasta puttanesca
- Look for cans of San Marzano tomatoes for this recipe. This variety of tomato is full of flavor and doesn’t contain many seeds, which makes it perfect for sauce making.
- You can use any type of black olive that you like. I typically use Kalamata olives, but a nice Gaeta or Nicoise would also work well. Just be sure to remove the pits before you add the olives to the sauce.
- Salt packed capers have the best flavor and texture, just give them a quick rinse before putting them in the sauce.
- This pasta stays fresh in the fridge for up to 4 days, which makes it great for meal prep.
- I typically serve this dish with garlic bread and a green salad for a complete meal.
- If you prefer a spicier pasta, feel free to increase the amount of red pepper flakes.
This recipe as written is a fairly classic rendition of this dish, but you can alter the ingredients to suit your tastes.
- Protein: Add grilled chicken, shrimp or sliced flank steak on top of your pasta.
- Herbs: Feel free to use other herbs instead of the parsley such as oregano or basil.
- Pasta: While this dish is often made with spaghetti, other long pasta will also work such as linguine or angel hair pasta.
- Cheese: Add some freshly grated cheese over the top such as parmesan, romano or even mozzarella.
This pasta dish is loaded with bold flavors, and tastes like it came straight from your local Italian restaurant. This is a must-try for when you need dinner on the table quickly!
More Italian dishes you’ll enjoy
- Pizza Stuffed Shells
- Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
- Bruschetta Chicken
- Chicken Parmesan Pasta
- Chicken Pesto Pasta
Pasta Puttanesca Video
- 12 ounces spaghetti pasta
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or more to taste
- 28 ounce can San Marzano whole tomatoes drained
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives pitted and halved
- 3 tablespoons capers
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions.
- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the anchovy paste, garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan.
- Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Coarsely chop the tomatoes then add them to the pan. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir to combine the tomatoes and olive oil mixture. Bring to a simmer.
- Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have broken down and formed a sauce.
- Stir in the olives and capers.
- Drain the pasta and toss with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with parsley, then serve.